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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Social Justice - What It Really Looks Like - Personal Stories From The DDR

The following is my own translation of an article entitled : Zwangsadoption: "Ich habe es aus der Adoptions-Akte erfahren!" I'll do the best I can at translating, but it will probably not be perfect.

Forced Adoption - "I found out about it from the adoption file"

Stassi separates mother from her children

Little Katrin was just four years old when she and her seven year old brother were shopping at the open air market with their mother when they were suddenly surrounded by a group of Stasi-Men dressed in black. The Stasi arrested her young mother on this morning in 1971. She was accused of having contact with people who were known to want to leave East Germany and who were considered anti-social.

by Kerstin Kraska-Lüdecke

The children cried and were afraid. "I'll be back tonight", promised the mother as she was led away. A woman from Child Protective Services stepped out of the group of Stasi-people and took the frightened children to their grandmother. The next day, Katrin and her brother were put in an orphanage. It would be 19 years before Katrin would see her mother again.

Life In The Orphanage

Katrin remained in the orphanage for several months. She was assigned to a foster family on two different occasions, but for various reasons, could not stay. "I was brought to a family that took care of me for awhile." I learned later that the only reason for this was to separate me from my brother who was in a home for school-age kids was, while I was in one for pre-schoolers." tells the now 42 year old woman  After that, the girl was assigned to a single lady pediatrician. But she wasn't able to deal with the little girl. So Katrin was now six years old and still in the orphanage. One day her Grandmother came to visit and told her that it was over, and she had only one last chance to get along with the third family. "If this doesn't work out, you will have to stay in the orphanage!" "Even though I was still very young, I saw the seriousness of the situation", said Katrin Behr later.

Second Class Child

She wasn't very happy in the orphanage because one of her caretakers treated her as a "child of a traitor" very badly. So she went to her new family, who at first were very good to her and adopted her when she was 8. The relationship to the new mother changed a few years later, however, when the mother had a baby of her own. "Then I was always treated as a second class child" remembers the now 42 year-old. From a social perspective I was well taken care of, had everything that I needed - but emotionally it lacked a sense of warmth.

Katrin's adoptive mother, a teacher and state secretary raised her as a socialist. The rules were strict. When Katrin didn't follow them, it hailed punishment. Her new "Dad" kept out of all matters concerning her upbringing, even when she appealed to him for help. "Later on his deathbed, he apologized to me for not sticking up for me more", says Katrin.

Occasionally, Katrin would ask about her real mother. Katrin got to hear that her real mother was unreliable, didn't take good care of her children. Katrin could not believe this, because she remembered her mother as a very loving and caring woman. But, she didn't know whether she could trust her memories or feelings. She grew up with this uncertainty and the many unanswered questions. She finished school at the 10th grade and studied to be a nurse. Katrin married at 19 and had a baby girl, who today is already 21. Two years later, she had a son.

Reunited After 19 Years

In November of 1989 came the change, and the wall fell. Now Katrin finally saw the chance to find out more about her own family and real mother. It took some time, but then she found the address of her "real" mother, who as it turned out, also lived in Thüringen. "I carried my mother's address around with me for an entire year, but couldn't find the courage to go visit her." says Katrin. Not until 1991 was she finally able to write a letter. The happy reply from her mother came just two days later: She is ecstatic, has been waiting so long for the moment when her daughter would finally get in touch. Katrin was relieved. She decided to surprise her "mama" and visit her over Easter.

Together with her own little family, Katrin drove off into the unknown. Seeing her mother, who was ripped away from her 19 years earlier, was bittersweet. "On one hand it was wonderful, but on the other I was aghast because my mother was a complete stranger to me." Says the Thüringerin. We greeted one another completely normally, hugged, and talked. It wasn't as dramatic as it is on TV.

Katrin admits she would not have recognized her mother if she were to pass her on the street. But her mother knew immediately that her little girl from long ago stood before her. The two talked at great length on this day, telling each other about their lives, which they were forced to live apart from each other. Katrin was curious and wanted to finally know what really happened. She learned that her mother had spent the next 11 months in jail. After her release, she broke one of the conditions of her parole, to never set foot in her home town of Gera. She was promptly sent to jail for another 3.5 years.

After her second release, the mother tried everything to be able to hold her two children in her arms again. She wrote multiple letters to the Child Protective Services office in charge, asked The Ministry Of Internal Affairs for help, as well as the Youth-help. Without success. "She never had a chance of getting her children back", knows Katrin now.


"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

Today, Socialism is called "Progressive"

They will never admit that, of course, they are not stupid. The ends justify the means.


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